I don’t have a lot of experience at library events as an author, but I am a big fan of public libraries. Some of my fondest childhood memories happened in the public library. Wandering the stacks. Loading my arms with books. Picking up a random book and discovering an author whose books I couldn’t wait to read again.
I heard some interesting questions at the library booksigning, a couple of them multiple times.
1. Did you self-publish? This seemed like a savvy question from library readers, and I heard it several times. I answered politely and honestly without trying to read into the question what readers might think was the better answer. But what does it mean that people wandering from one book table to another in a library would so easily ask it?
2. Where are you selling your books? I tried not to point to the books laid out on the table between me and the inquirer and say, “Well, here.” I understand that interested people have their favorite places to buy books. I was happy to be able to name the major book retailers. And then I wondered if question #2 was related to question #1.
3. Are your books in the library? They got me with that one. I did not plan ahead and find a library computer to search on my own name. All I could say was that my books are in many libraries, but if I go to another library signing, I will be sure to get this information ahead of time.
4. Have you made a million dollars yet? This came from one person who passed my table several times and asked it every time. I just laughed. I can dream.
5. Can I take one of these? No, not the books. But I had postcards and business cards out and was happy to see lots of people interested in picking them up.
6. Are your books in e-book formats? I expected to hear this, because I have heard it even when I was signing in a store that obviously did not sell e-books. But, this was a lending library audience, so perhaps e-books were not at the front of their minds.
The sweetest story of the day was a woman who picked up a card for The Pursuit of Lucy Banning and moseyed on to the next table. About an hour later, she returned and told me, “I sat down to rest and read your postcard. I found out your book is about the 1893 world’s fair in Chicago. My grandparents got married in Chicago on the first day of that world’s fair. I knew I had to buy your book.”
I did not sell a lot of books, and it’s hard to measure the impact of two hours of exposure in a library on future sales elsewhere. But I was so happy to meet Mary and hear her story of connection to my Chicago books. That was a lovely moment.